The changes Kerala’s new four-year degree courses are expected to usher in | Explained

The framework, formulated with a student-centric approach, provides maximum flexibility in terms of choice of disciplines of study. It also allows students to move from one discipline of study to another and from one institution to another. The curriculum stems from Kerala government’s intent to build a strong knowledge society that can help develop a knowledge economy

Updated - July 08, 2024 12:45 pm IST

Published - July 08, 2024 11:53 am IST

Kerala’s?Department of Higher Education hopes that the reform will equip students with the knowledge base and intellectual abilities that will make them effective citizens in a knowledge society and offer them multiple employment options.

Kerala’s?Department of Higher Education hopes that the reform will equip students with the knowledge base and intellectual abilities that will make them effective citizens in a knowledge society and offer them multiple employment options. | Photo Credit: S. GOPAKUMAR

The story so far: Institutions of higher education in Kerala rolled out four-year undergraduate programmes (FYUP) on July 1. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan formally launched the academic reform that “intends to provide opportunities that can enable students to acquire competence in using digital technologies, computational methods, data analytics, and other skills essential to participate in the knowledge economy”.

It began with the formulation of Kerala State Higher Education Curriculum Framework for FYUP by the Kerala State Curriculum Committee headed by Suresh Das, former Executive Vice President of the Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment. A model regulation for FYUP was prepared by the Kerala State Higher Education Council (KSHEC) for the universities in the State. The programme has been introduced in the affiliated colleges of the Kerala, Calicut, Kannur and Mahatma Gandhi Universities for the 2024-25 academic year. The five-year integrated programmes directly run by the Cochin University of Science and Technology and Mahatma Gandhi University have also been restructured to provide a four-year exit option. Similarly, Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady, and Thunchath Ezhuthachan Malayalam University, Tirur, are also offering the programmes.

What are the key features of the Kerala State Higher Education Curriculum Framework for FYUP?

The framework is formulated with a student-centric approach and provides maximum flexibility in terms of choice of disciplines of study. It also allows to move from one discipline of study to another, according to the KSHEC. It has the options for developing various academic pathways by a creative combination of disciplines of study. The students will have the chance to determine their semester-wise academic load and will be allowed to learn at their pace, to the extent possible. The framework offers flexibility for the students to move from one institution to another. It also offers the flexibility to switch to alternative modes of learning (offline, open and distance learning, online and hybrid modes of learning).

What are the programme pathway options available to learners?

Three-year undergraduate degree: students who wish to exit after three years of a four-year degree programme will be awarded undergraduate degree in the major discipline after the successful completion of three years, securing specific number of credits (133 or above) and satisfying the minimum course requirement.

Four-year undergraduate degree (Honours): a four-year undergraduate Honours degree in the major discipline will be awarded to those who complete a four-year degree programme with the specific number of credits (177 or above) and have satisfied the minimum course requirement.

Four-year undergraduate degree (Honours with Research): Students who are highly motivated to opt for research as their career can choose honours with research stream in the fourth year. They should do a research project or dissertation under the guidance of a faculty member of the university/college. Students who secure 177 credits, including 12 credits from a research project/dissertation, are awarded the undergraduate degree (Honours with Research).

What was the need to introduce FYUP?

The core objective of the undergraduate curriculum stemmed from the government’s intent to build a strong knowledge society that can help develop and sustain a knowledge economy. The Department of Higher Education hopes that the reform will equip students with the knowledge base and intellectual abilities that will make them effective citizens in a knowledge society and offer them multiple employment options.

What are the concerns over the new reform?

A group of academic experts and cultural activists, who issued a joint statement against the ‘unilateral’ rollout of the FYUP, warned that that the reform could “dismantle” the existing structure of arts and science courses including BA, BSc and BCom that have been in existence for several decades. They also alleged that it lacked in-depth study in any subject. A section of teachers had also pointed out the gaps in infrastructure on campuses and the lack of adequate training for the teachers on various aspects related to its implementation.

How will the FYUP alter the postgraduate programmes?

The KSHEC has started consultations with experts on the way forward based on the recommendations included in the Curriculum and Credit Framework for Postgraduate Programmes introduced by the University Grants Commission.

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